This past Saturday hundreds of high school students waited patiently to comb through about a thousand formal dresses and a few racks of men’s suits for the annual Once Upon a Prom dress giveaway.Â Held this year in association with Operation Pretty & Polished and State Farm Insuranceat the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington in NE, this all day event has garnered a reputation for not only being a worthy function, but a fun time as well.Â All clothing, accessories, shoes, jewelry and assistance, even tailoring for the boys pants this year, are FREE.Â Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers, even little children run amongst the tidy racks of colorful fancy frocks, looking for the perfect gown that makes a statement in person, on Facebook, and in years to come as the kids look back on that special night.
Once Upon a Prom’s co-founder and leader of the pack, Ashley Taylor has been at it for years.Â It’s not an easy charity to run, even though one may think that as prom only happens once and year and as I have been personally told by many, “It should be cake. Just get a bunch of dresses and distribute!” Right? Wrong. The charity has to pay for the secure storage unit that will house up to a thousand or so donated dresses worth a LOT of money.Â The dresses are dropped off all year long to specified locations, then Ashley transports them to the storage unit.Â The Executive Committee and its volunteers headed by Taylor have to organize the dresses by size and even donate many of the dresses to other charities, get matching clear hangers and storage racks, and create partnerships with local outlets, like minded charities, and find ways to promote the 501 c 3, as well as raise money. And that’s not all.Â Now there are accessories, shoes, makeup, hair, limo rides to contend with, as well as boys’ attire.Â Â The logistics of moving the dresses back and forth and wait, from the storage unit to where?Â Once Upon a Prom’s Taylor searches diligently for an ideal location each year for the big event.
And let’s make it fun, let’s have music, entertainment, balloons, treats.
This year, by far, was the most successful, thanks to the partnerships.Â WPGC and El Zol 107.9 joined in head first.Â Volunteers dressed in pink Once Upon a Prom tee shirts by Crooked Monkey came from all over the area.Â They were asked to join for an hour, or two or as long as they can came out Saturday to help arrange the setup, assist the girls with trying on their dresses and accessories, and act as stylists for the day.Â Even men showed up (in pink) to help.Â The tailor worked her hands to the bones in the back.
Taylor told me that Saturday, over 300 dresses were given away to students the over 500 unusable dresses were given away to Dress for Success.Â See? We are all in this together.Â Partnering DOES work.
Learn more about Once Upon a Prom at www.onceuponaprom.org.Â The charity holds various fringe fundraising events throughout the year that we will be sure to promote via Facebook and Twitter.
Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a platform for profiling people who "make it happen" in the Capital region, reviews & topical blog posts. She launched Punch Enterprises, a connector consulting business in 2015 and Pacific Punch based in LA, in 2012. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, VA. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.